Mash Central tops list of new tobacco growers
MORE than 29 000 farmers countrywide have registered to grow tobacco for the first time with Mashonaland Central, leading the list of the new registrations for the 2017-2018 cropping season.
Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate that 29 158 new growers have registered for the first time.
This is an increase of 115 percent from the 13 540 new growers who had registered to grow the cash crop during the same period last year.
According to the TIMB statistics, Mashonaland Central has 11 530 new growers this season, up from the 5 645 growers who had registered during the corresponding period last year.
Mashonaland West is on the second position with 9 652 new growers, up from the 5 175 who had registered last year.
Manicaland has 4 621 from 1 440 last year and Mashonaland East has 3 215 new growers from 1 238 last year.
Midlands and Masvingo have 112 and 28 new growers respectively from the 36 and six growers who had registered during the same period last year.
So far farmers have planted 15 874 hectares of flue-cured tobacco this season, up from 14 102 during the same period last year.
According to farmers’ organisations, there are few challenges in the tobacco sector as most farmers did not have problems accessing inputs.
The bulk of tobacco growers produce the crop under contract farming arrangements.
Contractors supply farmers with inputs such as fertilisers, chemicals and sometimes pay for labour.
Most farmers have opted to produce tobacco under contract farming as the buyers offer high prices than they do at the auction floors.
This has affected operations at auction floors and Government had to intervene with a $28 million facility to assist small-scale farmers, who do not have access to funding and also keep auction floors from collapsing.